The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Becker, Karl Ferdinand (philologist)

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BECKER, Karl Ferdinand, German philologist: b. Lieser, 14 April 1775; d. Offenbach, 5 Sept. 1849. He first studied in the theological seminary at Hildesheim, then entered and was graduated from the University of Göttingen. In 1815 he began practising as a physician at Offenbach, at the same time establishing a private school. It was as instructor in his own school that he first became interested in philology, into which subject he made extensive researches and attempted to establish the theory that speech is an organism subject to the same critical analysis as other natural organisms, subject also to the same laws of development. This assumption was later discredited by Grimm and others, who showed conclusively that the science of philology must be largely based on ethnology and race history. The works of Becker include ‘Die deutsche Wortbildung’ (Frankfort 1824); ‘Organismen der Sprache’ (2d ed., Prague 1841); ‘Der deutsche Stil’ (Prague 1848).